Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Coping with a four-year sickness*

Yankee dollar talk
To the dictators of the world
In fact it's giving orders
And they can't afford to miss a word

I'm so bored with the U...S...A...
But what can I do?

~~ “I’m So Bored with the USA” by The Clash
I read a really good article from Vox today about dealing with what they have dubbed “Trump Fatigue Syndrome.” It is well worth a read because I think it has a lot of validity. I know I’m not the only one amongst my like-minded friends and family who have experienced this to some extent. For me, part of it is that I really can barely stand to hear him speak. At times—especially if he is not using a teleprompter, which he seems to have embraced now despite ridiculing President Obama for using one—he sounds like an absolute idiot. I’m not the best public speaker but at least I can manage to put together a cogent argument without sounding like the village idiot. I feel offended and embarrassed by his poor language and oratory skills.

Anyway, I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted to survive this with my psyche intact, I was going to have to limit my intake. I have instinctively done what the article recommends. During the election season, I had CNN on all day, every day. Now I leave the TV off and listen to music. I obsessively read every political news story in the sites that are on my read feeder. I had already limited those sites to ones that were fairly credible so of course I do not read demonstrably false sites. Now I skim through those stories and try to glean the tidbits without falling into that time-sucking rabbit hole. I am trying to get back on track with my book reading, although I still read the occasional political book. That’s okay...I know when I need to read something else. That’s why I’m currently reading a book about some teenagers making a zombie movie.

It’s important to know when to step away and that is a hard lesson to learn. After the 2012 election, I took a fairly long (at least for me) break from politics. My guy had won and I needed to get back on an even keel. I jumped in again for the 2016 race and that one didn’t turn out as well for me (or for our country...or for the world...but I digress) and it hasn’t been easy to regain my equilibrium. I am doing that and sometimes that involves just stepping away for a bit. It doesn’t have to be for a month, or a week, or even a day. Sometimes I just need a few hours to cleanse my palate. Music and books are a big part of that for me.

It is up to each of us to find that outlet for ourselves. One thing I would add to the Vox article is that it is vital to find your Happy Place™. You need something to which you can retreat when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t let him steal your joy. Find it within yourself and nurture it. If it involves quietly reading a book, taking a walk to clear your head, spending fun times with friends and family, curling up with your critters, or rocking your face off at a concert, DO IT. He can’t take that away from you.

I don’t doubt that many of us will see some dark days ahead and experience setbacks, some of them major. We are already seeing quite a bit of pushback, though, aren’t we? The courts issued a major smackdown on that horrid travel ban, he’s not making any friends in the intelligence community, people are starting to dig up the dirt on the Russian connection, and a handful of Republicans are balking at the new health care bill. There are limits to what our President can do and I think he is starting to find that out. I take heart in that.

So don’t despair, Warriors. It’s not going to be an easy four years*, but we have to support each other. Part of that is taking care of ourselves so that we have the strength and fortitude to be there for others when they need us. We stand together!

*Note: Four-year duration to be determined.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Get up, get on the good foot, and Get Out

We don’t go see movies in the theater that often, mainly because we have so much to watch at home. It’s kind of a special treat to go to the theater. We have a couple of movie franchises that we always see in the theater: Star Trek and Bond. I think Tarantino movies are now included in that rarified air.

We had heard enough good things about Jordan Peele’s movie “Get Out” that we decided we wanted to go see it now rather than waiting for it on DVD or streaming. It even won out over the John Wick sequel, which is saying a lot because we loved the first movie!

No regrets on our choice. I am still jazzed over the movie and we’ve been home for over an hour. It is like a drive-in movie, but better. It has all the elements of a drive-in movie—or a B-movie, if you will—but it’s smarter and more subtle. The creepiness is insidious. On the surface, everything seems fairly cool, if a little awkward, but you just know that something deeper is happening.

I’m generally very quiet in the theater, but this was a movie made for a raucous crowd, and there were cheers, jeers, and laughter at various points throughout the movie. I’ll cop to occasionally yelling, “Kill him!” It was a pretty good crowd for an early evening show in the Bend, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this movie is a bona fide low-budget hit.

For a low-budget movie, it absolutely delivers. It is legit scary, it is dark and creepy, but there are moments that are both cringe-worthy and hilarious. It struck me as “The Stepford Wives” but about racism rather than misogyny.

This movie is a blast and well worth a watch, whether you see it in the theater or later. It is not one to miss!

When it started

As I look back on it, I guess it started at the theater that night. Or at least that’s when I first noticed that something was wrong.

We went out for dinner at one of our favorite places, and everything was great. A wonderful conversation with my cousin and his partner about their recent vacation, discussion about a possible cruise together a few years from now, great food, and plenty of drinks.

I suppose we should have known that something was wrong when the back entrance to the theater—one that we use often—was locked. I guess they didn’t have enough people to staff it.

It seemed like a pretty good crowd in the theater, although the seats next to us were empty until just before the show. I noticed that the box seats weren’t full and the floor and the mezzanine looked to be a little more sparse than was the case at most shows.

As the show commenced, we drank our beers, and as usual, I started to doze off part of the way in. Unless it’s something that totally captivates and energizes me, I can’t help it. It was a very low-key show and I drifted off for a moment. I woke up just before the intermission and we headed off to the restroom. I had to stand in line for a while, and even then, I didn’t really notice that anything was amiss.

We got back to our seats in plenty of time for the second half of the show. We settled in—I was wide awake now—and I sipped the wine my husband brought me.

That was when I started noticing it. The coughing. It came from several rows behind us. Then closer to us. Then a few seats down from us. Most of it sounded like a dry, hacking cough, but some of it was a...well, I guess I would say that it was a wet cough. At times, it was so loud that I couldn’t hear the actors onstage. It was constant. I exchanged a glance with my husband and I saw that he was concerned, too. I whispered in his ear, “What is going on? This is awful!”

It continued throughout the rest of the show, and although my initial feeling was annoyance, I ended up worried. I had never heard that kind of thing at a show before.

When the show was over, we got out of there as quickly as possible. We both expressed concern about the incessant coughing, and when I texted my cousin, he said that it bothered him and his partner, too. At that point, I don’t think any of us were feeling any real danger. I know I wasn’t, although I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

We turned on the TV when we got home, and that’s when the news reports started coming in. London was first, although there was a lot of speculation that it began in the chicken farms in China. No real surprise there. Then the reports started trickling in from the East coast. Jersey and New York. There were incidents at the airport in Atlanta. People dying on planes, even a pilot! Quarantines of planes, sitting on the tarmac for hours. It was in the airports, too. People collapsing at baggage claim, airline agents keeling over behind the counter. It wasn’t too long before all flights in and out of the country were canceled. The president issued a statement that he would “bomb the shit” out of whoever was behind this.

But of course, that was empty rhetoric, and it was too late by that point, anyway. I doubt that anyone was behind it. Viruses happen, right? Anyone with half a brain knew this wasn’t just a possibility...it was an inevitability.

We stayed in contact with family and friends as long as the lines were operational. That lasted maybe two weeks after our night out at the theater. It became obvious pretty quickly that we weren’t going to be able to combat whatever this was. Without the help of the United States, the global health network couldn’t cope. We were able to watch the news during that time and saw the chaos and the mass deaths. We watched the footage of Atlanta when....

Never mind. I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t want to write about it. Hell, I don’t want to think about it.

It’s been a month now and we are still here. Neither of us has any sort of fever, cough, or other symptoms, and I’m certain we would have them by now if we had been exposed. We still have power, although we know that won’t be the case for long. We are working on what we can do about that. We’ll figure something out. I really don’t want to say too much. We hope to get out soon and check on people, but things look pretty dangerous right now. We haven’t seen any cars on our road for days, and we haven’t heard any traffic sounds from the nearby overpass. It’s so quiet now that we hear every little sound, including owls and coyotes. I’m a little afraid to walk out into the yard! Ha!

I think we’ll survive this. And by ‘we,’ I mean the human race. When we lost the news feed, the mortality rate was disturbingly high, but quarantine measures were being put into place. We can only hope that it will be enough to save the majority of people around the world. We just don’t know right now.

It occurs to me that Abraham Lincoln had a very bad night at the theater. I’m worried that our night at the theater might be worse. His assassination was horrible but I’m starting to wonder if we are looking at extinction.

In the meantime, we got some groceries...some peanut butter...should last a couple of days! Ha! I can’t resist the song references, even if I can’t play any music because we’re trying to save energy. I miss it.

I hope everyone is okay. I hope we’ll be okay.



This is obviously not real. At least I hope it is obvious that it is not real.

Get your damn flu shot! Is it 100% effective? No. But it could provide you some protection against an influenza virus.

There really were people coughing like crazy at the show tonight. It was bad enough that I wanted to write this!

There really is a very serious strain of avian influenza circulating in China right now. It has about a 40% mortality rate. That is some serious stuff, people.

The current Resident is planning on cutting the CDC’s budget by about 12%. This would be disastrous for public health, both here and abroad. Lives will be lost.

That is something to fear.